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Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Senate Irons Out Political Split Over Violence Against Women Act

From left, Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., and Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., talk to reporters about reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act. (AP)

The Senate is expected to vote this week on the Violence Against Women Act or VAWA, after ironing out a political split.

Since 1994, the measure has provided criminal penalties and grant money to fight domestic violence and sexual assault. The act is set to expire in September, and twice in the past 18 years, Congress has re-authorized it with unanimous Senate support.

But, this is an election year and that means the Violence Against Women Act has been in the middle of partisan politics.

Republicans, who say they generally favor the bill, originally objected to new provisions added by Democrats that would:

  • Raise the number of visas that can be granted to illegal immigrants who suffer domestic violence
  • Prohibit domestic violence shelters from discriminating against gay, lesbian, bi-sexual and transgender victims
  • Give Native American tribes jurisdiction over non-native men accused of abusing native women.

But on Tuesday, Republican minority leader Mitch McConnell agreed to a short term agreement but the GOP also also introduced an alternative bill that would reduce the number of visas for immigrant victims of violence but get more money for stopping sexual assault and double the sentence for rape.

Gail Chaddock, reporter for the Christian Science Monitor told Here & Now‘s Robin Young that she thinks there will be a debate in the Senate, and the Republican bill will be brought up– but not passed. The Democrat-favored VAWA will pass in the Senate, predicts Chaddock, but its fate in the House is less certain.


  • Gail Chaddock, reporter for the Christian Science Monitor

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Robin Young and Jeremy Hobson host Here & Now, a live two-hour production of NPR and WBUR Boston.

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